A total of 154 persons are still missing following Wednesday’s boat mishap in Kebbi State, relevant authorities said Wednesday.
It was learnt that a heavily loaded boat heading to a village in Niger State from Kebbi in North-West capsized.
There are fears that many of the victims would not be removed from the river alive considering the low pace of rescue efforts occasioned by poor equipment.
The incident occurred in Ngaski Local Government Area of Kebbi State at about 10am.
Apart from the people onboard, the wooden boat was said to be carrying bags of sand for gold miners, motorcycles and other equipment as the locals were heading for a local market.
Sources said that while authorities were using out-dated equipment to bring out those trapped under the water, many local divers were using crude methods to search for the missing passengers including men, women and children.
The Area Manager of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) in Yauri, Kebbi State, Mr Yusuf Birma, confirmed the incident adding that it was caused by overloading and weak boat.
He said that four people had been confirmed dead, 20 rescued alive while 156 people are still missing and that rescue operation was still ongoing.
“The boat is carrying 180 passengers with 30 Bajaj motorcycles. The victims were going to a market in Malele in Borgu Local Government Area of Niger State from Kebbi and the incident happened just a few hours into their trip.
“We are still rescuing the victims and the mishap occurred as a result of overloading. The boat does not have the capacity to carry 180 passengers.156 people are still missing and they are believed to be underwater,” he said.